Friday, 22 January 2010
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
أنت مكر البطون يا قلب آمن * تب نصوحا واستغفرن وآمن
أنت في قبضة الإله أسير * في تصاريف أصبعيه مواطن
تب تبتل إليه قبل فوات * خارجا عنك والسوى منك بائن
فعسى أن تنال منه ثباتا * فتلبي نداء داعي المآذن
إن لله في الأنام شؤونا * ذاك عبد محض وهذا مداهن
كم قرير للعين صار بعيداً * وبعيد قد صار في القرب قاطن
أيها الذاكر الحبيب ترفق * فالهوينا حرَّكت مني السواكن
وتلطف فالقلب مني هواء * وغرامي سهم وقلبيَ شادِن
كل قلب قد صار فيه رهينا * من سواه رعيا لتلك الرهائن
هات معناه بالجمال احتساءاً * وبمجلى الجلال يا صاح هادن
ذكره للفؤاد محض التهاب * لزوال الأغيار من كل كائن
إن تجلى بالذات فالكل فان * أو تجلى وصفا ففي القلب ساكن
فحمياه من مُحيَّاه تسري * في عقول قد حيرتها المحاسن
يا حبيبا لكل ذرة كون * لك تسبيحها وفيك تعاين
وكذا العاشقون فالروح منهم * هائم في الفضاء مثل الظعائن
كثر الهائمون فيك فقسمٌ * هائم ظاهراً وآخر خازن
كلهم يدَّعون فيك غراما * لكن المغرمون فيك معادن
ليس من يشرب القراح المصفى * مثل من يشرب الصديد الآسن
لا وليس الذي يؤم الثريا * مثل من في الحضيض والقبر قاطن
Words of: Al-`Arif Ash-Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Ash-Shaghouri
Translated by: Al-Faqir ila Allah, Ahmed Saad Al-Hasani
You are the trickery of the internal, o my heart so believe
Be sincere in repentance, seek forgiveness and believe
In the grip of God, you are a captive
Under His Mighty control, you live
Repent and turn to Him in devotion, before it is too late
Leave you shares and separate from any Otherness
In hope you will get, steadfastness from Him
To answer the call of the minarets’ caller
Truly, Allah has created all types of slaves
Here is a pure `abd and there is impure one,
Many a happy one, has found himself afar
And a far one has dwelled in closeness,
O beloved dhakir, be easy on me
For your gentleness has awakened my feelings (of love),
And be kind, for my heart is weak
My love is an arrow and my heart is a gazelle
Every heart has fallen a captive for Him,
Who, other than He, cares for such captives
Let’s ponder upon His Beauty, but slowly
But, o my friend, keep the Manifestation of His Majesty
For His remembrance is a purifying fire,
That removes all otherness from every being,
In showing His Entity, all are destroyed
And in showing His Attributes, He is in the heart,
For His Countenance oozes with intoxicating love
Into minds, bewildered with Beauties
O beloved of each atom in the universe,
To you is their hymns of praise and at Your Beauty is their gaze
So are the lovers, whose souls are
Wandering in the space just like travellers
Your lovers have become so many; some of them
Have manifested their love and others have kept it inside,
All of them claim they are in love with You,
Yet, those in love are of levels
Those who drink pure refined water,
Are not like those who drink boiling fetid water,
Nor those that are heading to stars,
Are like those who live in the depths of graves
This is what the tongue says,
But You know what is inside the hearts.
Monday, 18 January 2010
I realized quite suddenly that I was in love with India. It had been building up, from admittedly inauspicious beginnings. The suffocating yellow dust of Delhi, the huddled poor in filthy rags sitting by miserable little fires on every patch of waste ground; the scabby dogs and dying puppies; the way nothing ever seems to be finished off, or final; the traffic that careens crazily along pitted highways; the way no one, literally no one, can drive in a straight line, or give way. Yet in twenty years, India has changed. Once you get tuned in, it dawns on you that India is doing what I once thought beyond imagining: changing for the better. The slums are not as big as they were. People actually queue for things, rather than simply barge past you to reach their objective. There is a Metro that is clean, efficient and safe (all bags are searched politely and thoroughly, with a booth for women). Poverty may be all around, but the mental illness one might assume it would cause is no greater per head of the population than in UK, where incomes are seventy times higher. Even the cycle rickshaw wallah, a village escapee, peddles his creaking load with gusto, mopping his brow triumphantly with the rag he wears around his head, and grinning as if he had just won the marathon.
I am leaving after six weeks travelling all over the country, from the Dalai Lama’s mountain home-in-exile in the northwest, to the jungles of Orissa in the central south east. And what I will miss is the human contact, the kindness, the strangely intimate comradeship of a shared struggle, the belief everyone has in the national project. The humility of the Delhiwallah is astonishing and redemptive. He gets on with his lot, however meagre, with a strange resolve. I will miss the way catastrophe is so often averted right at the last minute, when all seemed hopeless, by people who ultimately look out for each other. I love the way, even if catastrophe does strike, people just get going again: the 126 people who were knocked off the roof of a train by overhanging branches in Andra Pradesh, will get back on their feet and back on some other train roof despite the three deaths, because that’s what you do with no money, and a need to travel. And no one has it in them to deny at least hope to the poor.
I love the all-night sound of the community’s chowkidar, the night watchman, banging his sticks and blowing his little whistle as an ‘all’s well’ that lulls me to sleep. I’ll miss the monkey man who beats his drum down our street for a penny. I’ll miss the love-starved, half-feral puppies on every garbage heap who go weak and fall into your hands if you so much as stroke them. The cows that wander past my suburban balcony, munching the shrubbery; and the pregnant cows that just get on and give birth in the middle of the traffic. I’ll even miss the cowpats on the sidewalks – because of what it represents. India hates boundaries, endings, things that belong here and not there. The sacred is co-existent with the secular and everyone is deeply religious. Sikh men chant the guru’s book together in a circle in the park in the early morning as they do their exercises. The best restaurant in town is in the same filthy alley as the biggest Muslim prayer hall. Anyone can wander into the famous Jama Masjid and photograph the up-ended bottoms of the faithful at dusk. Everything is mixed up with everything else and almost anything is possible.
History is never history in Delhi; the past lives on with the present, as William Dalrymple has so poignantly observed in City of Djinns. Nonetheless change is coming. MacDonalds sells tikka-burgers and fries, and as our populations merge, it could be Wood Green. The old mission station in Diptipur, west Orissa has a red-and-white Vodaphone mast towering over it. A self-made entrepreneur from a severely deprived village background is building a whole new futuristic suburb in Bhubaneshwar on a bank loan – and educating 7,000 tribal children on the strength of it. Someone else is developing a vaccine for salmonella.
But my love affair with India became official the evening I took tea with the Tablighi Jama’at. They’re the other-worldly Islamic missionary sect whose markaz or international headquarters is in the teeming old basti or slum of Nizamuddin. The name means ‘preaching party’. They are expected to devote up to 80per cent of their lives travelling from mosque to mosque, evangelising the disciplines of reformist Islam, renewing the faithful in preparation for the life hereafter.
Totally unannounced, and with a brazenness that staggered even me, I wandered uninvited through the open gateway and asked for an interview with Maulana Saad, the great grandson of the founder Maulana Muhammad Ilyas. The alarming reputation of this sect in Britain had daunted me, and I had needed all the professional courage and personal faith I could muster to surmount the threshold. But as I had no phone number, and I was leaving Delhi within two days, it was do, or die.
The TJ is said to have 80 million followers around the world and wants to build a so-called megamosque in Newham, east London. A combination of factors has caused increasingly alarm in Britain about the Tabligh.
What I wanted to know was why they were building a new ‘global headquarters’ – as it’s been called - in London, presumably moving from their historic location in Nizamuddin that, with its surrounding tombs of poets and warrior kings, reeks of a peculiarly Indian Islam whose Mughal heritage fascinated the British for centuries. Surely we need to understand the cultures that shaped our migrants if we are to have any meaningful relationship with them? What can a dislocated Dewsbury or Newham kind of Islam do for us, with all its huffing and puffing about equality and its justified or unjustified taint of terrorism? Would not a rekindled sense of Indian Islam’s continuity with the complex couplets of the nineteenth-century Mughal poet Ghalib who lived nearby, and the architectural achievements of Humayun whose bones lie entombed a hundred yards from the TJ markaz, help us a hundred times more? Would not an understanding of the Hindu persecutions of the Meo tribe, the first Tabligh converts, put things in a helpful new perspective?
So there I was, without a word of Urdu, with only two names on a piece of paper gleaned from Wikkipedia, and a mobile phone if I got abducted or worse. A fine-boned young man in a startling white turban waved me in and on – and I found myself standing next to a shrieking green parrot in the homely hallway of Maulana Saad’s family, being looked at silently by several females of varying shapes and sizes, all draped in shawls or burqas, who must have thought I was some kind of apparition.
But undaunted, the lovely bespectacled woman who turned out to be Mrs Saad bade me remove my shoes and come in – to what turned out to be the zenana, the women’s quarter of the large and spacious house at the side of the huge concrete complex. Muslims who want to get closer to God in prayer come here from all over the world, to be taught by the descendants of one of the leading Islamic reformers of his day. The TJ was the most enduring of the many reform movements that sprang up in response to the Hindu shuddhi or purification movement from 1875 onwards. The Arya Samaj had alarmed Muslims by its success at ‘re-converting’ nominal Muslim tribals to the so-called ‘mother religion’ of India, when numbers became a political issue after the British introduced a religion census in 1871. TJ is avowedly a-political. It longs for heaven, and anticipates victory for Allah, but all bets are on it happening in the hereafter, not now in India or Pakistan – or Newham.
As I sat cross-legged on floor cushions, a young woman in several layers of black and a nose stud joined me, and we quizzed one another in halting English. I showed her the photos of my half-Indian nieces, assuring her their father was Muslim, even though I was not. They brought me fruit juice, almonds, cashew nuts, dates from Medina and tiny yellow sultanas. Then they brought me sweet chai with hot milk in little stainless steel teapots on a tray. After piecing together who I was, and what I wanted, Mrs Saad, with great simplicity, once more ushered me forward, this time to sit adjacent a door kept just ajar enough for me to be addressed by two bearded men, whom I knew instinctively I should not turn and look at. For as TJ Mufti Bulandshahri says: ‘Women should not come before strangers. They may give to strangers a short reply to their questions from behind a screen.’
Thus protected from certain danger, there began the most extraordinary conversation. My interlocutor told me he was none other than Professor Sana’a Suhan, the famous statistician from Aligarh University, who did his PhD at the Sorbonne in France. His answers to my questions were subtle, thoughtful and interesting. But on one thing he was absolutely adamant. He repeated it in different ways throughout the 15-minute encounter as if there were already considerable debate going on about it within the establishment. There will be no markaz in London. It will just be a mosque, and possibly a school, to cater for the number of Muslims who want the training and cannot get to Delhi. ‘Personally, for me, they should construct a mosque according to the need of that area and whosoever says this is a markaz should never tell it like this. Maulana Sa’ad does not agree with this idea so whosoever says it is a markaz you may freely tell: “I have been to Nizamuddin and there is no markaz.”
Then he says it again. ‘This is simply the idea of some enthusiastic people that this is a markaz.’
And again. ‘These are not sincere people who name it a markaz. It should be named a masjid [mosque] and that’s all.’
I put to him local concerns about cohesion and integration caused by a 12,000 capacity building and he says: ‘This is for the government in England. They have to see whether there is a need for such a big mosque.’
He said that Nizamuddin was the pioneer mosque, the ‘markaz of the whole world’ – but not a place where global strategy was worked out. It was a place of prayer, and a place to learn more about prayer.
As if to address my unspoken concerns about the hijacking of an other-worldly movement by those with a more secular agenda, he added: ‘Prayer is a pivotal worship in Islam around which the whole of Islam revolves. If a Muslim is not performing the prayer in such a way as to build the Islamic character, he may claim to be Islamic - as more than 50 per cent Muslims claim - but if they don’t perform the prayer, then they are not.’
Then, abruptly, he was gone, back to his praying. And he took my card so I could be followed up by a tabligh, a preacher, in Britain, who could give me some books.
Then the women came and enfolded me in shawls for the evening prayer and Qur’an recitation, spoken with hands cupped to heaven, and amin whispered again and again in response to the words intoned by Sa’ad himself over the loudspeakers built into the walls of the zenana. Asma said she could not do the Qur’an reading because she had her period. Neither could she pray the salaat.
Before I could go into that delicate subject, it was time to go. But not before the gentle Mrs Saad had loaded me with gifts: a huge box of dates from Medina; several large books on tabligh; and most incongruous of all, a large bottle of Cartier Déclaration eau de toilette.
We kissed one another goodbye.
And that’s when I knew my love affair with India was for real.
Jenny Taylor blogs at http://blog.lapidomedia.com/2009/01/23/taking-tea-with-the-tablighi-jama’at/
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Sunday, 10 January 2010
The full moon has risen Transmitted from the Ansar of Madina
Al-Bara ibn Azib (a Companion) narrated that: [..] “I had never seen the people of Madina so joyful as they were on the arrival of Allah’s Apostle, for even the slave girls were saying, ‘Allah’s Apostle has arrived!’”[..] (Sahih Bukhari, volume 5, Book 58, Number 262)
The full moon has risen over us
From the mountains of al-Wada`.
We shall ever give thanks for it
As long as there will be callers to Allah.
O you who was sent to us
You came with a command to be obeyd
You came to give honor to our city
Welcome o best of callers!
Saturday, 9 January 2010
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.
For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.
And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.
By Roald Dahl (1916-1990)
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
"Tradition" in academic circles has come to signify old fashioned customs, archaic cultural practices, ossified ideas handed down from the past and articulated to the letter by naïve, simple minded neo-Luddites. In popular discourse, to be traditional is to adamantly cling in the past. Those espousing traditional values are often lumped into the same category as the tree-huggers and angry protesters hurling insults at the towers of free-trade, liberalization and globalization and in the process braving the batons and pepper-spray of heavily armed policemen.
From this perspective, tradition is not only diametrically opposed to modernity; it represents a distinct historical period from which modernity saved the world by liberating itself from the shackles of tradition. Thus, anyone who consciously clings to the profound and perennial "Truths" or "Virtues" if you wish, embodied in all sacred traditions, is regarded as "backward looking," anti-progress or worst, hopeless romantics.
In "Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and Islam," Katherine Pratt Ewing eloquently explains and historically illustrates that what has come to be regarded as "traditional" was never static nor monolithic, but was instead varied and constantly evolving over time. The accusation of rigidity was hurled at tradition, she argues, by the architects of colonization in order to establish the colonizer's hegemony over the colonized. Ultimately, in order for the colonizer to succeed in his colonization, the modern had to be cast as superior to the existing order. And thus the only reason why civilizations of old were destroyed, the argument goes, was because they failed to develop, progress, and to change. In other words, leave the old and dilapidated and get with the new program.
Unfortunately, many Muslims today have swallowed the false discursive assumption that tradition is something static. Therefore, in order to move forward, they have to tear themselves away from the past and embrace the modern, and by extension, the post-modern, with all its technological gadgetry, and its shifting house of virtues and ethics.
The consequence of this charge has produced some rather abnormal collective behavioral traits among us. We find in the murky water of contemporary Muslim reality those who feel the need to label themselves: modernists, progressives, reformists, fundamentalists; and even when there is absolutely no need for other categories, they nevertheless continue to pile up.
At this particular juncture, when young Muslims in the west are feeling a burning desire to understand and perhaps also experience something of the intellectual, spiritual, ethical and virtuous ambiance of earlier generations, it is important to clarify what we mean by the term "traditional."
According to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, executive director of Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, CA, traditional Islam is the "plumb line", the trunk of the Islamic tree, if you prefer, whose roots are firmly buried in the soil of Prophethood.
Over time, tributaries sprout from the "plumb line" and eventually die out, but the line continues because ours is a tradition based on isnad - sound, authentic, reliable transmission of sacred knowledge.
Young Muslims in the West, I believe, are responding positively to the call of "tradition" because they are a tad fed up with the many tributaries that have fractured from the "plumb line." They want to experience an Islam free of ideology, statist or otherwise, an Islam free of political affiliations, organizational goals, and market driven visions hatched in lofty towers by engineers and doctors.
Therefore, by "tradition" we mean the "Sunnah" of our Noble Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, in all its timeless,
living and sacred glory. The Sunnah here is the worldly manifestation of the divine revelation which has been codified and preserved in the sacred text of Al-Qur'an.
To follow this sacred tradition means to stake all claims, whatever they are, in the two sources of Truth: The Qur'an and the Sunnah. In our Ummah, no one, regardless of what category he puts himself in, will argue to the contrary. Some may choose to stress only the intellectual, cultural, social, or spiritual aspects of the Islamic tradition instead of treating the tradition as an integrated whole. Regardless of what is given priority, it must be based on the explicit "Truths" evident in the Qur'an and the Sunnah for it to be regarded as within the parameters of the Islamic tradition.
This tradition is the whole of Islam (al-din) and whenever an attempt is made to compartmentalize or divide it up into edible portions, for whatever reasons, that effort will never survive the test of time. Having said that, we should recognize that those who emphasize one aspect of the tradition may be doing it out of a need and not an attempt to split the tradition into parts.
In order for speak of a sacred tradition there must be a model that serves as its reference point. We therefore recognize that the community of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was established with divine guidance as a model, and at no time in history will there ever be another community like it. Further, the Islamic sacred tradition has been from its inception a living tradition and rigorously documented as such.
In order for the tradition to remain valid it has to be transmitted in a way that will stand the test of time. A sacred tradition cannot survive without transmission and the key to transmission is isnad, or sound and verifiable links that stitches each generation of believers to the preceding one all the way back to the Blessed Messenger.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, has often said that "isnad" is the secret of this Ummah and a gift from Allah. Without "isnad" the entire tradition could very well collapse. The system of ijaza (teaching licenses) is intricately linked to isnad in that one takes his knowledge from noble men and women who took their knowledge from those who took their knowledge from those..all the way back to that model community and to the blessed Messenger himself, whose knowledge, without a shadow of doubt, came from the Lord of the Divine Throne through his messenger, the angel Gibril, upon him be peace.
There is a tested and established tradition aimed at preserving and transmitting sacred knowledge within the overall tradition of Islam. We recognize its validity and importance today especially when the "sacred" has been relegated to an inferior position in our modern educational system. Zaytuna Institute in California, and a host of other well-established organizations in the U.S.A., Canada and the UK, have dedicated themselves to preserving and re-establishing the traditional educational method of teaching the Islamic sacred sciences to the present generation of Muslims in the West.
The fact that the tradition must be transmitted to remain valid, necessarily entails that it cannot be static because time does not stand still and the world is certainly not one big snapshot. The established Truths of the Islamic tradition will always confront and must reconcile itself to new situations, events and circumstances.
A lot of the divisions and acrimony we find in our communities today is as a direct result over a problem in determining exactly what is an "authentic" tradition.
In "Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought" Daniel Brown points out: ".it is also evident that tradition is frequently appealed to as a way of defending against perceived innovation, as a way of preserving threatened values. Alternative uses of tradition are thus a major battleground; there is fierce competition to control the process by which the content of tradition is defined, and for modern Muslims, sunna has become the bitterest point of conflict. Thus, the modern problem of sunna arises out of conflict among Muslims over the definition and content of the authentic tradition, and over the method by which the tradition is to be defined." (page 3)
The only way to effectively deal with the thorny issue of what constitutes an authentic application of our tradition is to recognize that the mujatahid Imams, and by extension the `ulama who follow in their methodological footprints, are the final arbiters. This applies to fiqh as well as to the other branches of the Islamic sacred sciences.
Differences of opinions and interpretations in our sacred tradition is not a sign of weakness in the tradition, but instead, they attest to its richness and complexity.
When we live according to the Sunnah today we are preserving our tradition and ensuring its continuity and validity in time by handing it down to the next generation in much the same way as it was given to us by the pervious. The point here is that we act upon the tradition, not impose our modern sensibilities upon it, in the hope that the divine barakah may trickle down on us.
Finally, we are aware that the Islamic tradition, handed down to us over the years, is our link to the historic Prophetic community. By living it we are confirming that the way of our noble Messenger is as valid today as it was when Allah The Almighty sent him as a Mercy to all of mankind 1400 years ago.
This is what we mean by "tradition" and so when reference is made to the work we do as being "traditional," it is not an attempt to label, but to identify a focus that's broad enough to include all Muslims.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in his "Traditional Islam in the Modern World" offers the following comprehensive definition of tradition and one that I think works well as a summary:
"Tradition is at once al-din in the vastest sense of the word, which embraces all aspects of religion and its ramifications, al-sunnah, or that which, based upon sacred models, has become tradition as this word is usually understood, and al-silsilah, or the chain which relates each period, episode or stage of life and thought in the traditional world to the Origin..Tradition, therefore, is like a tree, the roots of which are sunk through revelation in the Divine Nature and from which the trunk and branches have grown over the ages. At the heart of the tree of tradition resides religion, and its sap consists of that grace or barakah which, originating with the revelation, makes possible the continuity of the life of the tree. Tradition implies the sacred, the eternal, the immutable Truth; the perennial wisdom, as well as the continuous application of its immutable principles to various conditions of space and time." (page 13).
(By Nazim Baksh. Nazim is a television journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, Canada. Over the last five years he has been involved in organizing Deen Intensives, Rihlas and other traditional programs in North America).
March 23, 1775
By Patrick Henry
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at the truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the numbers of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?
Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlement assign any other possible motive for it? Has
There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free--if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of
It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!